As you will be aware we have been developing our ‘blended learning’ approach at The Leigh Academy. This is the combination of our traditional in academy learning and online or remote learning. We must plan ahead to ensure that if your child is away from the academy for any reason that they are still able to access their learning remotely.
We have already shared our Blended Learning Guide for Families which will help you to support your child in accessing their work online through the GSuite education. Every class that your child attends in the academy has a Google Classroom – this is an online or virtual classroom where all classwork and homework is available to access at the academy or at home. In addition, I am sharing with you the link to our Blended Learning website which has all the codes to the Google Classrooms that your child should have joined for every subject; as well as links to additional online learning resources.
We are also in the process of linking parent’s email accounts to this system and then you will be able to receive a weekly ‘Guardian update’ via email from Google Classroom of work set and work completed or missing for your child.
Whilst I am delighted that we have had such a positive start to the return to The Leigh Academy this September, I am very aware of the fact that there may be the need for students to be absent from the academy with the usual winter bugs, or if students or family members have potential Covid symptoms. Whilst we have taken every possible precaution on site, it is perhaps inevitable that at some point in the future we may have a need to ask a ‘bubble’ of students to self-isolate. As such we need to be as prepared as possible and I would like to share with you the plans we have if the need arises for any future closure or action as directed by the Department of Education or Public Health England There are also circumstances where the academy may be directed to close for a proportion or even all of the students for a fixed period of time. The purpose of the remainder of this letter is to outline how we will manage the range of circumstances that we may be faced with whilst ensuring that learning can continue remotely.
The key principles that underpin this remote learning plan are set out in the Government Guidance on the Reopening of Schools (September 2020). This guidance states that, “remote education, where needed, is high quality, safe and aligns as closely as possible with in-school provision: schools and other settings should continue to build their capability to educate students remotely, where this is needed.”
Currently the small number of students who are absent from the academy each day are able to collect the work that they have missed from their Google Classroom. Teachers will upload the lesson resources they have used each day and students, once they are well enough, should use these to stay up to date and catch up if needed.
There is a possibility in the future that if Dartford becomes an area of concern that all schools will enter the government’s ‘Contain’ strategy (see annex 3 of the following document for the full detail: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers).
Tier 1 of this strategy would not change our current arrangements, but if the government put us into Tier 2 schools would be required to undertake a two-week rota for students. In these circumstances approximately half of the students would be off for two weeks, followed by the other half for the next two weeks. We would aim to keep Year 11 and Year 13 in the academy full time, and then rotate other year groups so that Year 7 and Year 10 would be in one timetable cycle and then Years 8, 9 and 12 would be in the next cycle. We would also aim to provide full on site provision for children of key workers and vulnerable students (as we did previously during the national ‘lockdown’.)
- Teach their lessons as normal to those students physically present, these would be whole classes.
- Deliver ‘live’ online lessons from the academy, supported by resources on google classroom for those year groups not present.
In the case of a whole year bubble being required to self-isolate, teachers will deliver ‘live’ lessons from the academy as per the timetable. Students will be expected to log in, if they are able to, at the time of their lesson. A register will be taken and absence followed up centrally. We appreciate that not all students will have access to appropriate equipment to do this, but as we begin to roll out Chromebooks to students over the next few weeks, this will become less of an issue.
If at any point in the future we were facing the prospect of whole academy closure, our response will be dependent on the circumstances at the time. In a regional lockdown staff will be expected to place detailed and comprehensive resources on the Google Classroom the evening before for lessons taking place the next day. As much as possible, these will contain rich media such as video and audio linked with presentations. These will be supplemented by ‘live’ lessons, but the frequency of these will need to be determined based on the local situation.
Whilst we fervently hope that these arrangements will not be required, I would reassure both parents and students that we remain committed to providing the best education possible whether on site, remotely or through a blended approach. Whilst there is no doubt that being physically present in the academy is by far the best option for all students, if circumstances arise that prevent this, we will do our utmost to ensure a positive learning experience continues for all.
Julia Collins | Principal